Your BREAK THROUGH, Vol. 1, Post 45

A Case for Facilitation as Critical Professional Development

Facilitation is an exercise in constant adaptability, encouraging a practicing facilitator to respond and adapt to what their participants are thinking, doing, and offering to the conversation or training. This continual feedback loop from participants encourages (if not forces) the engaged, conscientious facilitator to dance, maneuver and adjust to facilitate towards a desired outcome/learning objective/discovery. This dance offers several skill sets that can be applied to other areas and responsibilities of work.

Since facilitation skills are important for their own application AND they can be applied to other areas of leadership and professionalism, the Rocky Mountain Innovation Lab offers coaching specifically around facilitation.  We conduct observations, feedback surveys, and critical reflection with the aspiring facilitator to improve and sharpen this instrumental skill set.

Here are some of the key skill areas that practicing facilitation helps develop:

– Facilitation is a strength-based approach to conducting conversations around an identified/pertinent subject matter, and an approach that encourages moving ahead and not getting stuck in problem paralysis, by asking “what do we have here and now? How can we make use of this? How can we proceed productively?” This problem solving, growth mindset is paramount for professionals and leaders

– Facilitation thus strengthens a professional’s ability to manage a team by encountering a problem, listening to the problem carefully, helping that team process the key issues of the problem, and then engaging with the essential steps of solving the problem. While this process might be applied directly in the moment during a facilitated conversation, it can also be applied to work with colleagues, teams, projects, and organizational management.

– Facilitation grows a professional’s ability to manage, collect and filter thoughts, feelings and energy into something productive, both for themselves and for the participants of that training or conversation.

– Facilitation grows the Emotional Intelligence skill of ‘awareness of others,’ increasing both empathy and the facilitator’s ability to collaborate productively.

– Similarly, facilitation pushes a practicing facilitator farther in their thinking, deeper into their own self-awareness, and into a more creative mindset for problem solving.

– By preparing for individual facilitations and the overall trajectory of multiple facilitations, facilitators are encouraged to constantly engage in the process of curriculum development and to execute various approaches to the same curriculum through trial and error, adjusting curriculum for specific audiences, and adjusting curriculum for the mood and energy of a particular group on a particular day. This allows a facilitator to practice their adaptability, flexibility and problem solving on a regular basis.

Given all of these benefits of facilitation, a facilitator also actively engaged in their own critical reflection through intentional coaching, can not help but integrate these diverse skill sets to the rest of their work. The growth mindset that facilitator’s develop becomes the norm for succeeding in all of their work responsibilities.